NASA has started a competition between three firms to produce three concept designs aircraft for quiet, energy efficient aircraft that could potentially be ready to fly as soon as 2025. The designs come from Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and The Boeing Company. In 2010, each of these companies won a contract from NASA to research, test, and develop their concepts during 2011.
According to NASA, the constraints of each design is that they have to able to fly up to 85 percent of the speed of sound; cover a range of approximately 7,000 miles; and carry between 50,000 and 100,000 pounds of payload, either passengers or cargo. These are big projects with high reward for the company who's design if chosen could revolutionize the future of air travel as we know it. each team will be researching, testing, data collecting, simulating, keeping and discarding innovations and technologies to make their design the winner.
Ostensibly, NASA is planing to develop and possibly produce a line of super-planes that are larger, faster, quieter, and that burn fuel slower and cleaner than their present counterparts.
How likely is it that we'll see these designs in the sky? Fast Company offers some insight: "Given how long it usually takes to craft an aircraft from scratch, and bearing in mind how many technical hitches the revolutionary Boeing 787 Dreamliner has suffered, these are the sorts of aircraft that these three firms are probably beginning to design for real right about now."